The Clothes On Our Backs: Final Choices About Stuff

We’ve lost our minds.  Entering the home stretch, we’ve gone absolutely stupid insane.  Our final week is a maze of meals with great people, selling little bits of our lives, one car (or sideboard) at a time.  But through it all we do realize how lucky we are.

When Kalpana’s parents moved from India to North America they came with just a few suitcases, and maybe $500 in cash.  For many who reach our shores, even that is a fortune.  So it seems ludicrous for us to winge about being restricted to four pallets of stuff.  But the idiocy doesn’t stop there.

Now that we’ve wrestled most things into boxes, we find ourselves looking for stuff to worry about.  The other day Kalpana sprung to life at 7AM with questions about “How are we going to pack the KitchenAid”, and several other weighty issues that her mind had clearly been chewing on all night.

A day or two later I found myself panicking about needing to buy new underwear.  “I’ve got to run out and buy some of my underwear because I don’t know when I’ll be able to restock.”  As if the good people of Dublin have all gone “commando”, and there is not a brief to be had in the whole country.  I’m an idiot.

A short time later I found myself determined to pack “good hangers” for much the same reason.  This kind of thing boggles the mind, and the sickness infects every part of packing.

I think the idea that we are going to be without the stores and brands that we’ve come to know and trust has somehow selectively lobotomized us.  It would be amusing if it weren’t such a pain, and didn’t require talking one or both of us off the ledge at least once a day.

For no reason other than your amusement, I’d like to give you an abbreviated glance at this week’s calendar of insanity.



  • Pack kitchen
  • Pack clothes
  • Pack Garage
  • Pack pictures, and keepsakes
  • Sell sideboard
  • Try to foist leftover spices on sideboard people
  • Realize that nobody wants three year old Chinese five-spice powder
  • Give cactuses to friends from New Mexico (because we’ve all but killed them, and people from New Mexico all know cactus resuscitation, right?  I’m an idiot)
  • Go to July 4th party (and give hostess carload of excess office supplies for her office)
  • Print customs & shipping documents
  • Do laundry
  • Fill out, scan, and email first round of shipping documents (including signed contract which should have been sent days ago)


  • Take critical documents to local mobile shredding service, and stand by the side of the road as they feed all of our old checks, passports, bank, work, and medical documents into the monster, and hope that vasectomy slideshow highlights don’t blow across town in the process
  • Pack garage and basement
  • Get travel crate water dishes for pet kennels
  • Realize they only fit two of the three kennels and you’ll need to repeat last step for third kennel
  • Sort & pack all tools and garden equipment by 7:30PM so you can give remainder of tools to friends who lost theirs in a garage fire
  • Offer them the Chinese five-spice powder.
  • Label all boxes and make/print packing lists and valued inventory.
  • Fill out customs forms
  • Print, scan, sign and email all forms


  • Clean house
  • Finalize pet immigration paperwork
  • Dinner with friend
  • See if she’ll take the Chinese five-spice powder


  • Pick up truck
  • Remember to take Subaru title
  • Load boxes
  • Drive truck and Subaru to Indianapolis
  • Drop boxes at shipper
  • Drive to CarMax and sell Subaru
  • Drive truck back to Bloomington
  • Load furniture and deliver to friends
  • Return truck


  • House closing
  • See if new owners want us to leave the Chinese five-spice powder
  • Get utilities turned off
  • Close bank accounts


  • Sell last car
  • Pick up rental car to drive until last day
  • Going away (come drink all our liquor) party


  • Clean House
  • Visit with friends
  • Dinner with friends
  • Pack Suitcases a day early


  • Take pets to Vet for final tests, drugs, check up and paperwork
  • Return rental car
  • Take shuttle to Indy airport
  • Pick up cargo van and drive back to Bloomington
  • Take suitcases to shipping store to be weighed
  • Toss out family heirlooms until bags are within weight limits
  • Dinner with friends – Husband is Tibetan so I don’t even ask about the Chinese five-spice powder.


  • Pack Van
  • Load Pets in crates and load into van
  • Pour Chinese five-spice powder down the sink
  • Turn out lights and lock doors
  • Drive to Chicago
  • Drop off pets
  • Catch flight

Emigration Day: July 12, 2011 (7 Days)

Things to look forward to in upcoming posts

  • Departure
  • The Logistics of International Moving
  • Moving Pets

About Glenn Kaufmann

I'm an American freelance writer, photographer, and web publisher. I specialize in writing about travel, food, arts, and culture. I also write dramatic scripts for stage and screen. I'm based in Ireland.
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8 Responses to The Clothes On Our Backs: Final Choices About Stuff

  1. Marisol says:

    Glenn and Kalpana, take a big breath, take another one. Seem that moving oversea does something to the brain, but I am sure is short-lived and you will be back to normal in no time and get a new access in the bargain. Best part of your post, “Going away (come drink all our liquor) party” I wish I was there with you both to celebrate this new chapter of your life. And don’t wait until the last minute and just toss that Chinese five-spice powder down the sink 🙂

  2. C in DC says:

    Ditch the hangers! Your closets will be too small anyway. Plus, searching for the right stuff for your new house will be a great way to get to know your new city.

    Whatever you do, do NOT take the Chinese 5-spice powder in your luggage. Baaaaddd idea.

  3. H-bomb says:

    If you haven’t touched an item in your house for over a year – you clearly don’t need it. That includes the Kitchen Aide which I’m assuming runs on a different electrical current anyhow. All electrical appliances you should buy new over there like hair dryers, mixers, vacuum cleaners, etc.. Chances are you’ll find them as same price or cheaper than in US. Also electrical adaptors = fires, melting appliances, & fuse blow outs in my experience. Again, yard sell or donate for tax write off everything you haven’t touched in a year. WIll make you instant money & save you money on shipping at same time. Win / win.

  4. Jessica says:

    I’m crying while I’m laughing.

    I’m going to miss you guys so much!

  5. Val says:

    Thank you for this post, because this is exactly how I feel two and a half weeks away from my move to New Zealand! Very comforting to know that I’m not the only one! (Marisol sent me to your blog- I’m a former coworker of hers)

    • Kiwi,

      So glad the post “helped”. Though I’m not sure there’s any real help for those last few days before the move. You just have to get through it. In retrospect, I (we) probably over planned. But so far we’ve had no major glitches, so it seems to have paid off in a distinct lack of nasty surprises. Hope things go well during your move. Keep us posted.


  6. Rob Klepper says:

    Hey Glenn – do you know where I might be able to pick up some Chinese five-spice powder?

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